WATCH: Heavy smoke hangs over Zeballos as the wildfire that has the North Island community under a state of emergency continues to burn in the mountainside above. Even as firefighters fill the tiny village to protect structures, locals are already concerned about what happens next. Skye Ryan reports.
As helicopters drop water on the burning mountainside over Zeballos, and chainsaws build a fire break to stop it from moving into this north Island village, Mayor Donnie Cox is on his rounds.
“Just checking general mood in town just making sure everybody’s settled down and safe,” said Cox.
Even in danger of burning down, this tiny village of 150 people is cooking around the clock for firefighters,
“I feel awesome. It makes me feel really good feeding the guys who are saving the town,” said one resident.
Six properties are under evacuation orders due to falling rock and debris from the burning mountainside.
Firefighters are now going door to door in Zeballos, assessing fire threats, with the local cemetery, just a kilometer from the fire, is an area of special concern.
“These are relics, crosses and they’re all made of wood, so. We’ll do our best to protect the area if it comes to that,” said Coastal Fire Incident Commander Dan Neville.
Officials say it will taking a soaking rainstorm to put out the growing fire. Yet even when it’s out, residents know the threat isn’t gone.
“There’s no understory or trees left on the rock bluffs to retain the water so we’re anticipating mudslides and rock slides and everything that comes with that. So for the village, it’s a long ways from being over,” said Mayor Donnie Cox.
Crews will be brought in this week to assess the danger of the mountainside.
As for the fire, officials say it appears to be moving away from the village, but with mother nature being so unpredictable and conditions so dry, crews are staying vigilant.
Firefighters are expecting to be here as long as it takes for rain to come, to ensure the people of Zeballos and what they hold dear stays safe